Issue of Paid News is Ruled Out: Ashok Chavan on Election Commission Notice

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Issue of Paid News is Ruled Out: Ashok Chavan on Election Commission Notice

File photo of Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan

Mumbai:  Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan today said the show cause notice issued to him by the Election Commission (EC) has vindicated his and the Congress' stand and that "there is no question of paid news."

"Our stand on the paid news issue has been confirmed by the Election Commission. Even the High court and Supreme court had taken a similar stand when our opponents had filed a petition. The courts had rejected their petition. Now this (EC) order is also very clear. There is no question of paid news," Mr Chavan told Press Trust of India over phone.

Earlier, the EC order had said that Mr Chavan had failed to file his election expenses in the requisite manner. "There is a provision under which a notice can be served to us. We will reply to that. I have not seen the order in detail yet. But (the issue of) paid news is ruled out totally," Mr Chavan said.

Confirming the receipt of the notice, Mr Chavan said that he himself had pleaded with the EC to give him an opportunity to explain his stand on the issue and on the allegations that he failed to file electoral expenses as required by law, which he will do so now.

"But I am happy that our stand has been accepted by the election commission," he said.

The context of the case was the election to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly held in September-October, 2009 wherein Mr Chavan was the candidate from the Bhokar seat.

The complainants, namely, Madhavrao Kinhalkar, one of the rival contestants, BJP vice president Kirit Somaiya and four others, and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP MP and and five others, had alleged in their submission made before the Election Commission that Mr Chavan got several advertisements published in various regional newspapers during the poll campaign.

The complainants had alleged that the advertisements which appeared in newspapers in the garb of news eulogising Mr Chavan and his achievements as chief minister, were "paid news".

It was alleged by them that a huge expenditure was incurred or authorised by Mr Chavan for getting those advertisements and the articles published as news, and that the expenditure incurred or authorised on the publication of those paid news was not included by Mr Chavan in his account of election expenses maintained under section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.


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